Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism is set to be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press later this year, and I am so excited about it. Written by David Swartz, assistant professor of history at Asbury University, and based on his fascinating doctoral dissertation, Moral Minority examines the emergence (and limits) of the so-called “Evangelical Left,” a movement of progressive evangelicals (like the Brethren in Christ’s own Ron Sider) who sought to articulate and put into practice a comprehensive evangelical social ethic.
It’s really the first-ever history of this important branch of the evangelical movement, and as such promises to substantially deepen our understanding of this religious body.
Here’s a bit more about David’s book, courtesy of the Moral Minority website:
Moral Minority charts the rise and fall of a forgotten movement: the evangelical left. Emerging in an era when it was unclear where the majority of evangelicals might emerge politically, the evangelical left held great potential. The convergence of civil rights and antiwar activism, intentional communities, and third-world evangelicals in the early 1970s prompted the Washington Post to suggest that the new movement might “launch a movement that could shake both political and religious life in America.”
In the end, it did not. Moral Minority charts how identity politics roiled the evangelical left—and how the Democratic Party in the 1970s and the religious right in the 1980s left progressive evangelicals behind. The failure of the evangelical left, thus, was the product of a particular political moment more than a reflection of evangelicalism’s inherent conservatism. As a new century dawns, Swartz suggests that this marginalized movement could rise again, particularly if the Democratic Party reaches out to evangelicals and if Christian immigrants from the Global South are able to reshape American evangelicalism.
UPenn press slates the book for a September 2012 release. I’m hoping to have a review of the text in a forthcoming issue of Brethren in Christ History and Life, given its obvious importance to recent denominational history. Until then, check out the Moral Minority website for some of David’s reflections on the book and its major themes. I’m sure I’ll be pointing folks back to this blog in the future, if any of his posts interact with what we’re doing here at The Search for Piety and Obedience.